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Cultural change is not about loss and destruction, but about creativity. Discuss in connection to issues of global culture and cultural imperialism.
Some scholars (Yuanzi, Xiaoyuan, 1998) believe that "globalization" is a process that human race constantly across the spatial barriers, institutional, cultural and other social barriers so that we can achieve fully communication (material and informational) on a global scale and reach more consensus and joint-action. This process is a multi-dimensional, both unified and diverse and constantly conflictive. On this basis, the "cultural globalization" is considered as a process of looking for cultural integration and sharing within the conflict and the unity, which means all national cultures through the exchange, integration, infiltration and complementarity continually break their own cultural patterns and geographic limitations and move towards the world; continuously go beyond the boundaries of the national culture and get cultural identity under human judgments; constantly change the national cultural resources into human sharing resources. This kind of process is a formation and evolution of force. In this way, "globalization" seems to be such a force, which is the source of capitalist countries in Europe and now mainly is the United States. They are in an attempt to maximally transform or digest the various differences or conflicts of the world's national culture into the same.
However we have to clarify that culture, which is the human-specific phenomenon, as the crystallization of human civilization and progress, permeates through all areas of social life. It plays an irreplaceable effect for the people to foster a correct world outlook, philosophy of life, conception of history and sense of worth. National culture is the soul of a nation and the spiritual symbol. It is the core of culture. Any nation's culture, including mode of production, social structure, ideology, religion, ethics, customs etc, is the sign of the existence of this nation and the premise of continuation of development.
In the context of globalization, the reason cultural diversity still can be maintained is because this closely linked by national independence maintaining. One of the basic characteristics of culture is ethnicity. This is the cornerstone for this nationality based on the world's nations. If one nation completely denies their own cultural traditions, loses the national self-confidence, and is willing to accept the alien to "assimilation", it is the beginning of this nation's decline. Once any kind of culture losing their "national identity", it does not exist as an independent culture any longer. Establishing of the so-called "globalization" which are dominated by one specific kind of culture, its essence is to implement a cultural hegemony. It is a typical "cultural imperialism."
The term of "cultural imperialism" is one of the numbers of terms emerging in the 1960s to criticize of society in a radical-spirit way. Since then this term is widely used by the intelligentsia. However its definition and connotation has always been fragmented and ambiguous. The referent is extremely broad and similar to one another in a high degree. This term came originally from the mixture of two words "culture" and "imperialism", and these two words in itself is extremely complicated and prone to doubt. The objective for synthesis of this word is to provide a concept which is similar with a protective umbrella, meanwhile it accommodates a very a wide range of topics. In certain circumstances, it can be defined as: "The use of political and economic power to exalt and spread the values and habits of a foreign culture at the expense of a native culture" (Tomlinson, 1991). Such a definition itself tends to think that the essence of cultural imperialism is to promote and spread the values in the habit, and in this process, "political" and "economic" power only plays an instrumental role. However, many of the discussion about cultural imperialism, in fact, more emphasize on the significance of economic role. While all cultural factors, but is a tool, is one used to support political and economic domination. In other words, the process of the imperialist countries controls other countries is cultural advanced. The imperialist countries export to other countries cultural forms of supporting the imperialist relations, and then complete the state of the imperial domination. Just like American scholar Jameson pointed out in 1986 that the First World countries master the world's cultural output initiative. They can mandatorily indoctrinate their own values and ideologies to the Second World through media. At the same time however, the disadvantaged and marginalized Third World countries can only passively accept. Their cultural heritage is at risk, and their cultural values and ideologies are under constant infiltration as well. The aggression and infiltration of the First World culture provoked opposition from Third World culture, and the struggle against cultural colonial and hegemony which resulting the cultural conflict is inevitable.
For a curtain period, many countries from Europe to the Americas, from Africa to Asia, a lot of new content have been appearing for the popular culture and daily life. Jeans, McDonald's, rock and roll, Hollywood blockbusters, or even the Western middle-class lifestyle, taste and pursuit, etc., have been becoming the new kind of fashion. People enjoy the Western civilization through eating, drinking and being merry; accept unconsciously the edification and influence of Western culture. Such cultural infiltration is more effective than the wars using of aircraft and missiles. Some cultural infiltration could lead many countries lose not only their national identity, but themselves as well, and then accept the Western values and institutions involuntarily. The external violence, such as missiles, is not very terrible, but more frightening than the missile is the economic and cultural which is a sort of subtle and underhanded soft knife. If the old imperialism mainly used guns to conquer the world and enslave the weak peoples, the "cultural imperialism" in virtue of cultural infiltration, quietly conquers the hearts of people from other countries and allows them to consciously obey the superpower hegemony.
In the context of economic globalization, any country with the independent cultural tradition must safeguard their own cultural tradition, cultural benefits and cultural security by taking positive measures. Many countries and even some western developed countries use "multi-polar cultural theory" to against American "unilateral cultural strategy". For instance, in 1989, the European Parliament passed through the "Television without Frontiers Directive (TVWF)" to ensure the playing time for the European film and television works; At the same time EU determined the six standards of "cultural exception"; In 1993, France, Canada and other countries in the Uruguay Round negotiations put forward the "cultural exception" concept which states that cultural exports should be treated differently than other goods in trade negotiations because national cultures should be protected.
In my point of view, economic globalization and economic integration is indeed a tide and trend which cannot be stopped. However in contrast, the culture probably cannot be fully integrated. Generally speaking, there are both globalization and integration factors for culture, but also exist factors that cannot be completely globalized and integrated. The anti-globalization demonstration in Seattle and the protest by German people when the U.S. president visiting to Germany demonstrated that even in the west itself, there are widespread anti-globalization voices. Culture is far beyond the simple material production. It is a more advanced and more complex human spirit activity. The cultural homogenization which right followed of globalization should not be prematurely optimistic estimated. However these issues are well worth pondering: what aspects of culture is the ability to globalize and integrate; what are not the factors?
To answer these questions, a special study on "culture" should be necessary. First of all, there is a commonality side between human feelings and ideas. In the process of creating its own history, human beings also create their own spiritual and emotional world. Although for the different regions and different ethnic people, their display form for the emotional and other spiritual activities are varied, there are some common areas that are communicable and blended with each other. Only in this way, humans can be closely linked rather than gapped. In this sense, cultural globalization is feasible and should be.
Secondly on the other hand, factors for culture which cannot be globalized and integrated still should not be ignored. These cultural factors constitute the core of the different national cultures. Language is one of such cultural factors. Language is the carrier of any culture; moreover also constitute the core of different cultures. We can see that the globalization of strong languages, such as English, is contributing to the demise of many minority languages. In nowadays, about 20 kinds of languages are disappearing around the world every year. With the disappearance of these languages, those related natural cultures of disadvantaged groups have been becoming extinct. What is more, discussing literature and art is inseparable with the language. For a nation's culture, literature is the most distinctive and ethnic. If the language can be globalized, in addition to those nations who use strong languages, the literature works with other languages will also completely eliminate as the languages disappearing. Language for literature is not just a medium. Disappearance of the various and colorful national languages could lead the spirit of literature to be sameness and narrow. The demise of literature which is the most characteristic is a symbol of the demise of the national culture. Therefore linguistic, as the core element of culture is not possible to or should not be integrated.
The idea of cultural globalization is not able to fully become a reality. On the one hand, it is a consequence of increasingly frequent cultural exchanges in the process of economic integration; it is a real-life activity within an era of communication and dialogue. On the other hand, different cultures must keep their own unique contents and large or small differences, so that it can be able to communicate and dialogue. Homogenization of culture, unlike the process of economic activities, is not straightforward. It has many extremely important and unintegrated factors. Moreover, cultural diversity is a basis for the harmoniously existence of human civilization world. In the same way, diversity of literature and arts make a healthy and vibrant future.
However at the same time, we have to admit that a fact that cultural globalization is an irresistible historical trend. The reason is decided by the culture's own characteristics. The cultures all have their own roots and soil of survival and development. They inevitably have regional, local, special and relatively stationary characteristics. Once the national cultures abandon their traditional forms, thus it means giving up their history and losing the foundation and conditions for further development. Meanwhile, the cultures possess universal, dynamic, penetrative and expansive features as well. Although culture always manifested itself through the specific form of history, showing of human nature, strength and scale aspects during the activities of human beings changing the world also outlines the indispensable common elements of different nationalities and different cultural systems. Any culture, regardless how unique the form is or how varied the content is, is based on certain modes of production and a certain form of society. Any variety of large or small size of cultural system subordinates to the "mother system". It has the most general feature of culture, which is the bi-directional convective. This characteristic determines any kind of national culture is the unity of the static and dynamic. It is both single and diverse; it belongs with both nation and the whole world. The "aboriginality" for any local culture, in fact, is only a relatively significance. At the present day, as the earth becoming a village, the trend of "one world one family" is increasingly obvious. Cultural globalization has become an unstoppable tide. Cultural globalization, in brief, is that while economic globalization, the local culture opening active dialogues to the exotic culture with an open posture, developing and replenishing itself during the mutual exchange. So that the global culture can present that both unity and diversity, universality and uniqueness can be accomplished without coming into conflict.
In short, inexistence of the state of cultural isolation, interdependence and development of multi-culture, and co-existence of the particularity of local culture and the universality of the world's culture constitute the organic content of the cultural globalization. It can be seen that cultural globalization must not be understood as an assimilation of different global cultures or "westernization". On the other hand, it precisely shows a kind of scene that the world multi-cultural existing at the same time, interacting with each other and mutual constructing. Apart from this, with the trend of cultural globalization, there is an objective necessity for the various ethnic, regional and major cultural systems to occur "value conflicts" within the interaction. It is because different cultural patterns producing different culture bred factors, and they all have their own quality requirements and the specific scope of application. Therefore the "value conflicts" generated in the multi-cultural interaction is normal and inevitable.
Undeniably, the entirely different cultural patterns formed under differentiation can create an advantage. On the other hand, occupying a higher position, including all of the cultural differences together could maintain an advantage as well. An Indian religion organization named "Baba" or can be said "Zaire" is a great example. The logo for "Baba" is a flower composed of two-layer petals and each layer contains 5 petals. Inside the 5 petals involves all kinds of the identity of the world's major religions: Hinduism - Europe Mother Fu, Christian - Cross, Zoroastrianism - fire, Islam - Crescent and Buddhism - The Wheel of Dharma. Each of the traditional logo is the product under the cross-culture, creation and new meaning. Such a strategy holds all the different religions that come from various cultures into one same faith: "Religion is only one, which is love; Language is only one, which is soul; Race is only one, which is human; God is only one, which is self". This compatible spirit of the universe make "Baba" expand to the whole world, and its followers, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Mauritius, etc., have set up a total of more than 2,000 centers in 137 countries. In this case, it is no doubt that "Baba" is also a perfect successful example indicating the importance of creativity for cultural integration.
Globalization has both advantages and disadvantages. Whether the globalization can benefit on national culture's development primarily depends on the definition of "globalization". If the "globalization" aims to make a variety of culture develop and prosper jointly, that globalization is undoubtedly useful; if "globalization" is to make the western culture to dominate the development of entire world culture or advocate the "cultural imperialism", this "globalization" is not acceptable from a cultural perspective. The impact of cultural globalization has big drawbacks on small nations. Under the powerful impact of globalization, the weak nations must give serious thoughts in order to avoid losing of autonomy for their local culture, and even assimilating by foreign cultures.